Sabah

This is fucking Borneo, man

   … or as Mr. Stanton would say: “Welcome to the jungle!

   

Peaceful people at a peaceful place


Where to begin? It’s been a while since I posted something. A lot has happened. A lot.

   

   
I volunteered on Kudat Peninsula, Sabah, to be precise: at the Tip of Borneo. For a couple of weeks I help the local workers to build a traditional longhouse. One afternoon we take down an old shower block (which is going to be reconstructed over the upcoming weeks) and spot some centipedes. Mosquitoes are having their breakfast, lunch, and dinner on my back. It’s a nuisance. Smoking eggtrays, DEET spray, full body armor make it bearable.

   

The Longhouse which will be covered with more than 1,000 pieces of atap (coconut leave tiles) stringed together. The old communal area in the background is still intact at this point.

  

After a couple of days I get used to the intense heat, too. Another day we devote ourselves fully to the destruction of the adjacent communal area (also to be renewed and extended throughout the following weeks/months). While Ken, one of the locals, removes a floor plank, a centipede crawls away and tries to hide under some bamboo walls. Ken puts on a glove, finds and takes the centipede, and cuts off its teeth (buka gigi=open teeth) to feed it to his lizard at home.

   

   

One evening we go for a swim in the ocean. Lightning strikes in the distance. A gigantic water sprout forms, sucking up ocean water. Clouds kilometres high. Along with giant monitor lizards, snakes, centipedes, sandflies (those lil’ suckers!), mosquitoes, red ants, spiders, falling coconuts, rats and cockroaches, time and time again we agree: “This is fuckin’ Borneo, man!”

   
Being a volunteer at Tampat Do Aman (meaning: Place of Peace) I work about five hourse a day. Together with Maarten (Belgium), Alex (Germany) and Feyra (Canada) I build chairs and benches for the interior of the longhouse. In the afternoon we chill at the beach. I wrote feedback on the workaway website. Here is an excerpt:

   

We burned the old wood right next to us. Some planks and poles were set aside to be recycled later on when wereconstructed (and extended) the buildings. Later two other volunteers joined in. Teamspirit was sempurna – perfect 🙂

HEAT was a constant companion throughout the three weeks I worked as a volunteer. But oooohh, how refreshing is a cool open air shower afterwards!

In the spare time I had time to … explore the Rungus museum and read anthropological research papers … chill at the beach, catch some waves, play volleyball, go snorkeling … walk to the Tip of Borneo or hang out with the guests … watch the stars, wildlife etc.

Painting, sawing, hammering. Working hard, together we made 15 chairs. Apart from that, with the help of some professional locals, I saw a traditional longhouse take shape; the foundation, the floor, the shelves, walls, roof… and being inquisitive, I also learned some more Malay and Rungus speak.

   
   


   

As much as I liked to work here, as much as I enjoyed being here for a while I am also happy to leave again. I come to notice that every little thing that I like – if I do it long enough, a month, a year, a decade, it gets boring and tedious. Thus, it is what I bring to a situation that makes a difference between boredom and excitement: it is my attitude of interest and enthusiasm. Whenever i get stuck somewhere in my life, it is usually because I find no purpose or cannot connect with my feelings that come up in a particular situation.

   

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